Tax Guide for Independent Artists

January 23, 2023

This tax guide for independent artists is general in nature and intended to provide a few resources you may find helpful when considering your taxes. Your tax situation is going to be unique to you, and we highly recommend you consult a tax professional to discuss your specific situation.

This article is intended for readers in the United States.

Keep in mind that we’re a digital art marketplace, not tax experts, and as such, we cannot and do not give tax advice.

Tax season in the US officially runs between January and April 15th. However, as an independent contractor (artist or otherwise), you should keep an eye on your potential taxes year-round.

Below, you’ll find a collection of resources for your taxes, a summary of what the source means, who it’s likely best for, and why.

tax Guides for the self-employed

Information for any independent professional to help you understand what forms you need to file and how.

  • How to determine if you’re subject to self-employment tax
  • Who qualifies as self-employed
  • How to make quarterly tax payments (and which forms you’ll need)
  • How to file an annual tax return (and the necessary documents)
  • Basic FAQ, tips, and resources

Who is this for?

Everyone in the US who makes money from contract work, including independent artists. 

What makes them a reputable source for tax information?

This is the IRS – there is no entity more qualified in the United States to discuss matters related to taxes.

This should be your number one stop when getting ready for tax season. The IRS offers everything you could possibly need, along with reputable tax professionals, resources, and countless answers to various questions.

  • Who counts as an independent contractor (in less dense language than the IRS page)
  • The threshold for needing to file a tax return as an independent contractor (spoiler, it’s anything over $400 per year).
  • Additional taxes that will apply to you as an independent contractor or artist (Medicare, Social Security, etc.)
  • Viable tax deductions such as advertising, legal fees, rent/utilities, and more.
    • This is super important, so don’t skip it! Tax deductions can make the difference between a tax return and owing thousands on your annual tax return.
  • Various tax tips.

Who is this for?

Independent contractors, i.e., anyone who makes a living from work performed under their own name, rather than as an employee for a company. This includes independent artists, freelancers, and a surprisingly large swathe of other professionals.

What makes them a reputable source for tax information?

This is a more plain-language-friendly version of the information the IRS provides. The author walks you through a few potential scenarios, including how to decide if you should have your taxes professionally prepared. They provide ample linkbacks to the official IRS documentation as well, so you can cross-reference your sources.

SmartAsset is regulated under and registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

More Tax Resources for Artists

We’ve also collected some handy resources to supplement the technical articles above.

These guides are specifically tailored to independent/freelance artists. Do you make money selling art? If so, these guides are for you.

  • A clear breakdown of what qualifies as an independent business
  • Tax write-off explanation
  • Hobbyist vs. business artistry (in the eyes of tax law)
  • What specific things you need to track for taxes
    • This is super helpful; don’t skip it!

What makes them a good source for tax information?

Get Your Shit Together (GYST) is an artist-run company and art project explicitly designed to assist artists, educational institutions, and art organizations in understanding a swathe of otherwise-complicated financial tips and tricks.

  • Writeoff-worthy business expenses for artists
  • Deductions and other tax write-offs for artists
  • A brief explanation and guide to tax credits
  • Six (yes, six) forms that you might need come tax season.

What makes them a good source for tax information?

PocketSense is a service dedicated to helping people understand their finances; specifically, they aim to support independent contractors to get the most out of their careers.

  • Tax brackets 101
  • Tax deductions 101
  • Tax forms 101
  • How to qualify as a business (or independent contractor)
  • Everything that you’ll need to do your taxes in one easy-to-find table.

What makes them a good source for tax information?

This article is a treasure trove of information spelled out in easy-to-understand language; most importantly, it’s written by an independent artist. This means they’ve done the work and are far more well-positioned to talk about this than most others.

  • Behave like a business
  • Learn about deductions
  • Use a separate bank account
  • Itemized deductions vs deducted expenses
  • How to handle crowdfunding
  • What makes a good choice of accountant

What makes them a good source for tax information?

Artsy Editorial is a good resource if you’re looking for something that’s less of a textbook and more of a quick read. It breaks down a few (well, seven) of the most important things to keep in mind as a growing independent artist. This is an excellent resource if you’re planning to expand or grow your reach in the near future.